Digital Ads Know Us Better Than We Know OurselvesBrands and marketers are always looking for new ways to gain attention from consumers. Since the dawn of the digital age there has been a bigger and bigger push every year to reach consumers through their electronic devices, including first computers and today smartphones and tablets.

With the explosive growth of native advertising, social media platforms and Google itself are among those looking to the one thing that they have in absolute abundance to help them monetize their websites: consumer data.

Simply put, one of the easiest ways for brands to specifically target consumers is by using the data that they have shared for the last decade with social media websites, including things like the types of clothes they wear, food they eat, cars they drive and so forth. All told, it’s a marketer’s fondest dream, as it gives the promise of being able to do the very thing that advertising is supposed to do, i.e., reach the right person at the right time and convince them to make a purchase.

Reaching the masses

Targeting has long been used by traditional media buyers to keep wasteful spending (sending marketing messages to the wrong people) to a minimum. Digital media has upped the ante and now allows much more sophisticated buying and specific customer group targeting. The reason is due to the access that marketers now have to not just large amounts of data but incredibly huge amounts of data. Indeed, the more information that they have from consumers the better able they are to target their message to the specific group of people they want to reach, their specific demographic.

By targeting a specific demographic, a brand can create advertising that’s optimized for that demographic. Looking at all of the data that is being constantly collected every day on social media sites is one of the best ways to do it. Indeed, there is an immense amount of demographic data on social media websites like Facebook. From the status of someone’s relationship to their education level, gender, specific geographic location and even whether or not they are expecting to be parents sometime soon, this data is now being utilized to put together laser-targeted marketing the likes of which is never been seen before.

Online search giant Google is going one step further and tracking behavioral rituals of their users by focusing on browsing patterns rather than trying to figure out exactly what a person’s likes and dislikes specifically are. Google uses something they call “interest buckets” to do this, categorizing people by the types of webpages that they tend to visit on a regular basis. The resulting data can be used by advertisers to identify people who are interested in the services or products that are most similar to what they’re offering, even if the user is browsing webpages that don’t seem to have a connection.

At the end of the day, one thing is certain. Every last scrap of information that a consumer leaves behind during their browsing sessions is being analyzed, plotted and used in this new mobile marketing and advertising gold rush. It’s another way for social media companies to monetize their sites and just another step closer to the kind of specific, direct to-consumer advertising that marketing visionaries (and perhaps George Orwell himself) used to dream about.